Monday, January 26, 2009

Why Blame Me?

155 lives were saved and the blaming game started....

On 15 Jan, a US Airways Airbus ditched into the Hudson River in New York City shortly after taking off. Somehow, the plane stayed afloat long enough to allow nearby boats to rescue everyone within a short time. No life was lost and the melodrama incident had a happy ending.

Many praised the pilot's superb maneuvers and everyone agrees that it was the "Miracle on the Hudson River".

The big "what happened?" question was soon answered as it was later confirmed that the plane had a 'double bird strike'.

A 'bird strike' is a collision between an aircraft and a bird. When the birds are ingested into the engine, the damage to the plane can be severe enough to bring it down. In this instance, both engines failed as the plane flew into a flock of geese and the 'double bird strike' had caused both engines to fail.

Everywhere, people hailed the heroism of Capt Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot of the plane. Everywhere, people talked about bird strikes. Everywhere, no one seems to care about the birds in any way.

Long before the days of airplanes, men had always dreamt of flying like the birds. They tried for many centuries and nothing very successful happened.

In the 1500s, the famous polymath, Leonardo Da Vinci had the idea of creating a flying machine. He sketched his ideas on papers (above). By today's standards, his sketch was a convincing one. The big question to ask is whether he did successfully fly his machine.

There is no conclusive evidence suggesting that he flew. However, those who believed he did relied on the fact that he drew the "Bird's Eye view of the Arno Valley" (below). It was thought that Da Vinci could not have known the bird's eye view landscape had he not flown up to the sky.

The argument is still on.

It wasn't until about 400 years later, the world recognized that it was the Wright Brothers who invented the first airplane.

There you go, since time immemorial, the sky belongs to the flying birds. They never had to worry about collision with anything other than with their own kind. They were the original occupants in the sky.

When human invented flying machines, they shared the sky with the birds and assumed that the sky is big enough for all. Over time, more and more airplanes soar in the sky and more birds got into trouble of colliding with the planes.

According to the Bird Strike Committee USA, bird strikes cause more than $600 million in damage to U.S. civil and military aviation annually.

Between 1990 and 2007, civilian pilots reported 79,972 bird strikes to the US Federal Aviation Administration. In 2007 alone, 7,600 bird strikes were reported by commercial planes.

More than 219 people have been killed worldwide as a result of bird strikes since 1988.

Flight Engineers continue to invent devices and redesign plane engines that can fight the problem. They concede that bird strikes are always going to be there and they can't get rid of the problem altogether.

Meanwhile, birds in the sky continue to be 'blamed' whenever a plane flies into their path.

Let's get the perspective clear. The sky originally belongs to the flying birds. When we invented the airplanes, we 'kill' the birds at their home ground. When we suffer casualty, we said it's their fault.

Doesn't that sound familiar?

In life, when something goes wrong, our index fingers instinctively point to someone or something. We spend little or no time asking ourselves if we are at fault or contributory in any way.

Today symbolizes a new beginning, according to the Chinese Lunar calendar. Let's start the Year of the Ox afresh and learn to be more understanding and more forgiving.

Happy Lunar New Year. Moooooo....

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